Apply For A Business License Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What information should I have about opening a business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?
Everyone who desires to own and operate a business of any kind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania must have a valid business license before opening business. Whether your business will be temporary, whether you are purchasing an already existing business, or even if you are going door-to-door, you are required to have a business license. The business license is also known as the Business Privilege License. The City of Philadelphia wants you to understand that while it is a privilege to possess a business license and there are requirements that must be satisfied before it is issued, they are here to help you with the process, every step of the way!
What are the ways to apply for a Philadelphia Business Privilege License?
For the simplicity of the City’s future business owners, there are a variety of ways in which you may apply. The easiest method to apply for your Business Privilege License is to do so online at http://www.phila.gov/forms/index.html#business. If you would like to print the application ahead of time and then submit it at the Municipal Building in person, you can do so. If your preference is to apply in person, you may do so at:
Municipal Services Building
John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Concourse Level
What is the cost associated with getting a Business Privilege License?
The cost is more than other cities in Pennsylvania. The required fee for a Philadelphia Privilege Business License is $ The fee is due at the time of your Business Privilege License submittal and is due each year by March 31st thereafter. While $ is the general renewal fee, the fee may vary depending on business type and the gross annual receipts. If you require any assistance with the preparation of your business tax return, please call () For your ease, the fee may be paid online at http://www.phila.gov/revenue/.
What if I have other questions or concerns?
The City of Philadelphia wants to ensure that any and all questions that you may have are resolved. Their hours of operation are Monday through Friday between the hours of a.m. and p.m. except Tuesdays. The phone lines open at a.m. Call ()
If you prefer to research your own answers rather than speaking to someone, another resource has been made available to you. Instructional videos have been created to help you understand Philadelphia’s business taxes, how to complete your Business Tax Privilege License, and how to successfully register your business. This help can be found online at http://www.phila.gov/revenue/Philadelphia_Tax_Guide.html.
There are three addresses the City of Philadelphia has to serve its citizens:
John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Concourse Level
Municipal Services Building
North Philadelphia Municipal Services Center
North 22nd Street
(rear of the building) Roosevelt Boulevard
Northeast Municipal Services Center
Click the link to your city below to apply for a business license
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To find more information about a business license in your state choose the state below.
This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.
Pennsylvania Business License
You can obtain a Pennsylvania business license online.
We provide the information and resources you'll need to get federal, state, and local licenses and permits for your small business, including the seller’s permit.
Recommended: Visit our How to Start a Business guide for more help with planning, starting, and maintaining your business.
How to Get a Business License in PA
You can get a business license online by applying with the correct licensing or regulatory agency for your business.
Business licensing requirements generally depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
State of Pennsylvania Business Licensing
The only state-level permit or license in Pennsylvania is the sales tax license, also known as a seller’s permit.
You must obtain a sales tax license if you:
- Are engaged in business in Pennsylvania
- Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property and certain services that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail.
Visit the Department of Revenue to obtain a sales tax license.
Additionally, businesses in certain professions need to have specific state licenses or permits. The Pennsylvania Licensing System website provides more information about different types of licenses and how to register for them.
Steps for Obtaining a Business License in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Sales Tax License
You can register for a Pennsylvania sales tax license online. You will need to create an account to log in.
Apply Online With the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue
Other Pennsylvania Business Licenses
The processes for obtaining other Pennsylvania business licenses vary. Contact the relevant state or local government office for more information.
The Pennsylvania sales tax license must be renewed every five years.
Contact the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for other licenses your business may have.
Federal Business Licenses and Permits
Recommended: Consider having a professional service help you research and apply for business licenses and permits.
Best Licensing Services
PA Business License FAQ
What is a business license?
A business license is a permit issued to businesses by a government office that allows the business to operate in a particular area. They can be issued by federal, state, or local governments. There are typically different licensing requirements for different businesses and different locations.
What are the types of business licenses?
There are many types of business licenses. These include licenses at the local, state, and federal levels, licenses related to sales tax and other taxes, and specific licenses for various professions. There are also environmental licenses, zoning permits, and more.
Is there a national business license?
Most businesses don’t need a federal business license, but some industries, including broadcasting, investment advising, and drug manufacturing, do have federal regulations and licenses.
Is an EIN the same as a business license?
No. An employer identification number (EIN) is issued by the IRS to identify and keep track of businesses, but it does not license them to operate.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
No. An LLC is a type of business structure. While you are required to register as an LLC, it is not a business license.
Who needs a Pennsylvania business license?
Any business that sells taxable goods or services needs a sales tax license. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need additional licenses.
What licenses do I need to open a business in Pennsylvania?
Many businesses will at least need a sales tax license. Businesses in certain professions or locations may need additional licenses.
What is a sellers permit?
A seller’s permit is the common name for a license or permit that allows you to sell products or services. In Pennsylvania, this is called a sales tax license.
How much does a Pennsylvania business license cost?
There is no registration fee for a Pennsylvania sales tax license. The cost of other licenses varies.
Do I have to renew my Pennsylvania business license?
The Pennsylvania sales tax license must be renewed every five years. Contact the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements for other licenses your business may have.
Pennsylvania Business Resources
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Start a Business in Pennsylvania
This guide on starting your business in Pennsylvania provides step-by-step instructions on the paperwork to file formation documents, obtain tax IDs, and set up company records.
Below is an overview of the paperwork, cost, and time to form each of the most popular business structures. Simply click on the link for your desired structure to view detailed step-by-step instructions.
- If you have not decided whether you want to form an LLC, corporation, or other business structure, click here.
- If wish to form your business in a different state than Pennsylvania, click here.
Top 5 Tips on Registering a Business in Pennsylvania
- A few years ago, Pennsylvania launched a website called the Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI) that was designed to simplify registration with multiple state agencies. In theory, using this site allows you to register your business with the Department of State, the Department of Revenue, and the Department of Labor and Industry. In reality however, using the OBRI is a major headache. Even for advanced users, the process usually takes more time and results in more errors than filing by paper.
- Some business owners choose to be sole proprietors to avoid the costs involved in forming an LLC or incorporating. Most sole proprietorships register fictitious names. Pennsylvania is unique in that the cost to register a fictitious name (approx. $) actually ends up being higher than registering an LLC ($)! This is due to the publishing requirement for fictitious names but not LLCs.
- A common source of confusion is the annual registration fee for LLCs. Unlike many states, Pennsylvania does not charge an annual report fee for LLCs with the exception of “restricted professional” LLCs. Restricted professionals are licensed doctors, lawyers, CPAs, etc. The annual registration fee for restricted professional LLCs is $ per member.
- Every business is required to have a registered office in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania does not use the term “registered agent” but instead refers to a "commercial registered office provider". A CROP is a business that accepts legal documents and government notices for a business.
- Most businesses will need to file the PA Enterprise Registration form to register for taxes with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. This page application has brought more than one entrepreneur to tears - don't worry, we'll cover this in detail later.
*For COVID related resources, please click here.
Check out our Resource Library for helpful downloadable information sheets, including a Business Launch Checklist!
Commercial Activity License
*Formerly known as the Business Privilege License.*
Anyone doing business in Philadelphia needs Commercial Activity License. A City Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) Number is required with the application.
The Commercial Activity License is FREE. For more information, click here
Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I)
() • phila.gov/LI
Consult L & I to determine if your business type or location requires any additional Licenses, Permits, or Zoning.
Municipal Services Building 11th Floor
JFK Blvd. Concourse Level
Philadelphia Business Income and Receipts Tax Number
To obtain an application:
The Philadelphia Department of Revenue will issue a Philadelphia Business Income and Receipts Tax Number, and can provide information about City business taxes.
Fictitious & Legal Business Name Registration
If your business name is different from your legal name, you must either register the legal name with the state (through filing formation documents for an LLC, corporation, or partnership), or file for a fictitious (trade) name (if you plan to operate as sole proprietor. There is a small fee.
Bureau of Corporations & Charitable Organizations
To inquire whether your proposed business name is available, or to request registration forms, contact:
• PA Department of State
North Office Building
Federal Employer Identification
Internal Revenue Service
() • www.irs.gov
Any corporation or partnership, or a sole proprietor who plans on hiring employees, must obtain a Federal ID Number by filing IRS Form SS
For information, or to obtain the form, call or visit.
Arch Street, Room
PA Business Tax Number & Registration
The PA Enterprise Registration Form (PA) registers a business to collect Sales Tax, PA Employee Tax, Withholding, and Unemployment Tax.
To complete the form
By phone: () • *
*Services for taxpayers with special hearing and speaking needs
PA Department of Revenue
N 8th Street Room, STE A
For questions pertaining only to PA State Unemployment Tax, call
Worker’s Compensation Insurance
Workers’ Compensation insurance is required, and may be purchased from your insurance agent or from the state.
State Worker’s Insurance Fund
() • www.dli.pa.gov/Businesses/Compensation
PA Dept. of Labor and Industry
North Sixth Street
There are many types of federal, state, and local licenses, a well as professional licenses required for businesses. Depending on the type of business you are in and where you plan to operate, your business will be required to have various state and /or municipal licenses. Check with the license office in the city or town where you plan to do business.
For a listing of resource providers and SBA lenders in Eastern Pennsylvania, consult the SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Office Resource Guide (PDF).
The following county resources offer business information:
Bucks County Resources
Bucks County Industrial Development Authority
This site provides county resource links and county demographics. They administer the economic development initiatives of the County Commissioners, including administering several loan funds, and work in partnership with many for- and not-for-profit organizations to support local businesses, enterprises, and entrepreneurs.
Chester County Resources
Chester County Department of Community Development
This site provides county demographic information, procurement, real estate information, links to business resources and organizations, local municipalities, and county government offices.
Delaware County Resources
Delaware County Commerce Center
This site is a one-stop resource for economic development agencies, authorities and resources in Delaware County.
Montgomery County Resources
Montgomery County Development Corporation
This is the resource site for Montgomery County economic assistance and development for business. This site contains information and links to demographics, state and local taxes, and business resources.
Philadelphia County Resources
City of Philadelphia Business Services
This resource site provides information regarding Business Services and Economic Inclusion within the City of Philadelphia. This site provides detailed information, forms and resources related to planning, starting and running a business.
Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation
This resource site provides information about economic development initiatives including financing programs and real estate services in the Philadelphia region.
Community Legal Services
For over 40 years, Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia has provided the highest quality legal assistance to low-income Philadelphians who cannot afford legal counsel when they most need it. CLS houses nine different legal units: Community Economic Development; Consumer Law; Aging and Disabilities Law; Employment; Energy; Family Advocacy; Housing; Language Access; and Public Benefits, including the Advocating on Behalf of Children project (ABC).
Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic provides legal guidance to Philadelphia-area start up companies by assigning them a team of law students under the supervision of a mentor. Interested firms should apply at the link above.
Philadelphia LawWorks, a project of Philadelphia VIP, contributes to Philadelphias economic development by ensuring that homeowners, nonprofits and small business owners legal needs are met and by educating clients and the community to prevent legal problems.
University of Pennsylvania Law School
The Penn Law Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic (ELC) provides pro bono transactional legal services to entrepreneurs and businesses in the start-up or growth phase.
Philadelphia Bar Association
() • lris.philadelphiabar.org
The Philadelphia Bar Association has a referral service. Youll be asking to complete a form with your information and a brief description of the legal problem at hand. Theyll refer to an attorney who practices in the specific legal area youre seeking. There is no cost for the referral; should you contact the attorney they refer you to, there is a set $35 fee for a 30 minute consultation.
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians services for immigrants include employment assistance, small business start up assistance, ESL training. Their services for employers include help finding, hiring, and retaining qualified immigrants.
PA Biz Online
PA Business One-Stop Shop is the result of the commonwealths effort to make Pennsylvania the easiest place in the world to start, build and expand a business. This website gives entrepreneurs one-stop access to business information.
Entrepreneurs can find out how to start a business, learn how PA can help them grow, find the right forms and electronically register a business with the Department of Labor and Industry, Department of Revenue, and Department of State.
Founded in , Clarifi (formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley) is a (c)3 nonprofit community service organization providing a wide variety of counseling services and educational programs designed to empower individuals-of all economic levels-financially, and to help them before, during or after a period of financial difficulty.
The U. S. Small Business Administration provides business development information, on-line training, on-line counseling, resources including small business development centers, how to gain access to government contracts (including as a WOSB or HUBZone certified business), and services for entrepreneurs over the age of 50, and cyber security for small businesses. Don’t miss the SBA learning center for a variety of educational resources for business owners.
The U.S. Census Bureaus mission is to serve as the leading source of quality data about the nations people and economy. Data can be used for business marketing plans. Data collected includes: Population and Housing Census, Economic Census, Census of Governments, American Community Survey, as well as a variety of other surveys.
For help understanding how to find, understand, and use this data, contact:
Noemi Mendez Eliasen
Information Services Specialist
Philadelphia Regional Office- US Census Bureau
Introduced in , the National Export Initiative (NEI) aims to create long-term, sustainable economic growth for the United States by doubling exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million American jobs.
US Department of Commerce International Trade Administration
The U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade Administration (ITA) are critical to the implementation of NEI.
Take Your Business Global
The videos can be viewed here: www.inc.com/exporting/
A video series developed through a partnership with AT&T, SBA & Inc. Magazine to promote exporting. The series guides small businesses through the process of exporting: Getting Started in Exporting; Planning for Export success; Connecting with Foreign Buyers; Financing; and five Case Studies of successful small business exporters.
U.S. Export Assistance Centers
Located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, each U.S. Export Assistance Center is staffed by professionals from the SBA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and other public and private organizations. Your local U.S. Export Assistance Center is your one-stop shop, designed to provide export assistance for your small- or medium-sized business.
Business pa free license
Over the years, the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center have helped more than clients to start a small business. Most small business owners would tell you one of the most difficult stages of managing a business is starting whether you are starting an LLC, a sole propietorship, or a corporation. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs are experts at what they do but, they get confused about registering a business, deciding on the business structure, or bookkeeping.
I know you wish you could skip these and open your doors as soon as possible, but even reading this guide is a big step towards opening your doors!
The steps of starting a small business are pretty much the same whether you are starting a consulting business, a cleaning business, or a photography business. Let us get started!
The first thing you need to decide is your business structure. 72% of all businesses in the U.S. are sole proprietorships. It is simple to form a sole proprietorship. You do not need to register, and it is easier to manage and file taxes. However, your personal assets are not protected from business liability. To learn more about starting a sole proprietorship in Pennsylvania, check out our complete guide.
Business Structure - Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC
A second common type of business is a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Although single-member LLCs are considered as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes, LLC is a separate entity. In other words, your assets are protected under an LLC.
How to Decide?We advise our clients to start a sole proprietorship if they are testing the waters and not sure about the future of their business or keeping their day jobs and looking to make some extra money. However, if you want to protect your personal assets from business liability, and want to grow your company in the long term then you should opt for an LLC.
What are the other options?You can also start an S or C corp. However, these corporations are a little more difficult to manage and complicated in terms of taxes. If you want to learn more about business structures, head to our guide.
1. Apply for an EINThe next step for your small business is to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Go to IRS.govand apply for an EIN. If you are starting a sole proprietorship, you do not need to apply for an EIN. You can use your SSN instead.
2. PA Business License – Business Name RegistrationAfter you decide your business structure and apply for an EIN, head to Pennsylvania Business One-Stop-Shopto get a business license and officially become a small business owner. Create your account with PA One-Stop-Shop and go to the PENN file. If you are considering starting a sole proprietorship, you can skip this step as you do not need to register your small business.
If you want to make sure your business name is available, you can use the PENN File Business Entity Search feature. You can look up your business name and see if it is taken by someone else.
Business Name Lookup
After you make sure your business name is available, you can start filing your application.
Articles of Incorporation
Registering an LLC (filing Articles of Incorporation) with the Pennsylvania Department of State is $ If you are filing your application yourself, this should be the only fee that you pay. However, if you use third-party websites or consultants, you will end up paying more. Just a reminder that Duquesne University SBDC consultants can help you register your business at no cost (except for a fee of $ mentioned above).
How much does a business license cost?
3. Opening a Business AccountAfter you open your doors, if you do not want IRS to be your first customer, keep your personal and business financials separate!
Whether you are a sole proprietor or an LLC, we highly suggest opening a new business account for your small business. This will help you to better track your business income and expenses, and it will also keep things simple when filing taxes. Typically, you need a state-issued ID, EIN, or Social Security Number and your Articles of Organization (if you are an LLC).
4. BookkeepingBookkeeping is recording and organizing your business transactions. You can use a simple spreadsheet or software to track and record your transactions. If you are dealing with different accounts, we highly suggest using QuickBooks (Online Version). QuickBooks is the most widely used small business accounting software.
But before setting up your business accounts, become familiar with basic types of accounts: assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses, and equity.
If you want to learn more about business accounts and financial statements, you may want to check out our calendarand sign up for our First Step Business Essentials or Understanding Financial Statements programs.
5. InsuranceThere are a couple of different types of business insurance for small businesses, such as general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, professional liability insurance, and data breach insurance.
It depends on your industry whether you need all these insurances. That said Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for all employers with one or more employees (regardless of employment status and the number of hours worked) according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In addition to workers’ compensation, we highly suggest purchasing general liability insurance (business liability insurance). This can protect you from a variety of claims including bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and others that can arise from your business operations.
6. Business PlanThis something that you should not procrastinate! Whether you seek funding or not, a business planis something that will guide you along the way and keep you focused.
A business plan is a must-have document for new businesses. It tells how you will make money, what are your first, second, and third-year goals are, what your marketing plan is, and more. So, a business plan is the backbone of your business. Our business plan guideis a great resource if you need an example of an outline.
It’s always a good idea to start with a business model canvasbefore writing your business plan. It’s a one-page document that shows your key business activities.
From our experience, I could easily tell the financial projections part is by far the most intimidating step for the entrepreneurs, which should not be!
7. Financial Projections
The key here is to start with your assumptions. So, think about how many products you will sell in the first months. What is your rationale? How much growth are you anticipating each month? Again, what is your rationale? Will you add new products? What are your expenses? Will you pay rent? Will you hire employees?
If you start with these simple questions, all you need to do is put these numbers into a spreadsheet.
I hope after reading this guide, you feel more confident about starting a business. Starting a business is a big step, but it’s a process, and you should take one step at a time. Also, support from your family, friends, other small business owners, and mentors will help you to get there.
We’re Here to Help!
Duquesne University SBDC is funded by the SBA and offering no-cost, confidential consulting services in southwestern Pennsylvania to help entrepreneurs and small businesses to start and grow. If you want to start working with our business consultants, feel free to request a free consulting session.
Marketing, Training and Informatics Manager
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Updated July 8,
Business License in PA
A business license in PA is required to legally do business in the state of Pennsylvania. The state requires businesses to be fully licensed and registered depending on the type of services and products they provide. Pennsylvania's licensing for some professions as well as administrative licenses are handled by separate businesses and health-associated professional boards. Any type of business or profession that falls under the category of being licensed/accredited should first acquire the appropriate license before they can start operating or rendering services.
Are There Any Other Requirements My Business Must Meet?
The Pennsylvania Department of State requires a business to be registered if it falls under the category of either a corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, or a limited liability company. Sole proprietors and general partnerships are not required to file for a registration. Instead, they must submit a fictitious name/title if it will be operated by another individual apart from the owner. A lot of counties and local municipalities require proper registration and licensing together with some state prerequisites.
What Are The Local Licensing Requirements?
There is no absolute ruling with regards to local licensing. Depending on the municipality where your business operates, the need for supplementary licenses, permits, or registrations may vary. It is advisable to check with the local city government to know what the exact requirements are to license your business.
What Type Of Information Will I Need To Provide On My Local License Application?
You will need to provide the following on your local business license application:
- Full Business Name
- Business Address
- Contact Information
- Owner's or Officers/Partners (For Corporations and Partnerships) Name and Contact Information
- Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- State Tax Number
- Category of Business
For special occupational permits, you must prepare documents stating the nature of your business and detailed business activities. State licensing and registration together with some state prerequisites are required to be presented to signify that a business/service has fully met all prerequisites to operate and start rendering services.
Pennsylvania Small Business Information
The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers extensive information and assistance for new and existing businesses. You can check on the SBDC website for general information about starting, growing, and continuing your business. The website includes information on the following:
- Industry specifics
- Other related concerns
Another viable source of information is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Obtain One Or Multiple Pennsylvania Business Licenses
In Pennsylvania, a license is not a requirement for every business. Some licenses and permits include the following:
- Regulatory Tax
- Sales Tax
- Environment Tax
- Health and Safety
Different forms of regulatory licenses and permits can be given by various state agencies. In order to apply for the required licenses, permits, and accreditations, the Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration or Form PA needs to be filed either through the internet or in person. Some cities or towns will require locally issued licenses and varied prerequisites for you to start operating as a business. You may find this detailed information on the city's website within which you will be doing business. Businesses could be excluded from local licensing prerequisites because of federal or state law.
File Records For Your Form Of Business
Certain files need to be recorded with the state as they pertain to corporations and LLCs. The Pennsylvania Department of State requires corporations and LLCs and other specific types of businesses to submit organizational documents.
You Must Obtain The Correct Professional Licensing
Some occupations and professions are required by the State of Pennsylvania to have proper licensing before they can start rendering services. Web pages containing the state's regulatory board contact information and other general inquiries about the state's professional regulatory boards can be found through the Department of State's website within the Professional Licensing Section.
Registering a Fictitious or Assumed Business Name (Trade Name)
An Alternative Business Name can be technically called a/an:
- Assumed Name
- Fictitious Name
- Trade Name
- DBA/"Doing Business As"
This sometimes is needed depending on what kind of business you have, what services it offers, and where it is physically located. Pennsylvania requires any business that seeks to operate under an assumed or fictitious name within its jurisdiction to join its registry within the Department of State. The Department of State will request publication prerequisites related to the registration before assigning a fictitious business name.
Registering a Service Mark or Trademark
Trade names, service marks, and trademarks all have separate legal definitions. Trademarks, service marks, and trade names help in defining the unique profiling of services, products, or business that would make it distinct from prospective competitors. You can register service marks and trademarks with the state.
Do I Need A Sales Tax License?
Sales tax licenses are mandatory depending on the type of business you plan to start. Businesses that deal with retail and services are subject to pay sales tax, which requires the business having a sales tax license. This is acquired through completing the Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration Form or Form PA, which can be done through the internet. Sales tax licenses do not require a fee.
What Is The Average Cost For A Business License In Pennsylvania?
Depending on what category of enterprise (corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship) you selected, the cost may affect the initial funding needed and whether or not you will have to register for an alternative or fictitious name, since local governments in Pennsylvania have their own prerequisites for doing business.
Types Of Licenses & Permits You May Need In Pennsylvania
Operating a business in Pennsylvania may require some of the following types of licenses or permits:
- Building permit
- Health permit
- Occupational permit
- Signage permit
- Alarm permit
- Zoning permit
- Alcohol and tobacco permit
- Liquor license
- Sales tax permit
- Use tax permit
- Seller/reseller permit
- City business license (depending on the nature of your business)
Get Your Business License Locally In Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania issues business licensing at a local level and may vary depending on the type of business/service you provide. Contact the Pennsylvania State Agency that administers the licenses for your business to determine if you will be required to acquire a license or permit before you may start operating and rendering services. It is highly suggested to communicate with the city and the county where you do business in order to get the licenses, permits, and other requirements that are managed at a local level. Professional LLCs (PLLCs) require acknowledgment from the State Commission or Board.
If you need help with getting a business license in Pennsylvania, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.
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This checklist is a good starting point for you as you begin your business. It is in no way meant to be a substitute for professional advice or counsel.
For more information about starting a business, contact your local SBDC.
Formalize Your Idea
Formally select a business idea, product or service that you will sell. This may sound like an easy step, but think hard about what exactly you will be selling and whether you have the skills and qualifications to run a business. This is also a good time to start thinking about the feasibility of making your business idea profitable.
Research and Planning
Research the business industry.
- What will you sell? Is it legal? Who will buy it? How often?
- Are you willing and able to do what it takes to sell your product?
- Who are the competitors?
- What will your product cost to produce, market, sell, and deliver? Can you make a profit? How long will it take for your business to make a profit?
- What compliance issues do you need to address?
Write a business plan. Make sure it includes your management, marketing, production and financial strategies.
If you are going to have a web site, be sure to register the domain name.
- Using a domain registry service, see if the business name is available for use as an Internet domain name. Visit any of the innumerable domain providers--even if you aren't ready to use it yet. Your dream URL might already be taken.
If you are going to have a brick-and-mortar presence, research possible locations for your business. Where appropriate, analyze that location for traffic, parking, customer and delivery access.
Check zoning laws.
- Zoning ordinances differ among townships and boroughs.
- The PA E-Library is good website that offers zoning ordinances for townships throughout the state (but only if the township posts it).
- Always talk to the zoning officer and get a copy of the ordinance at the Township and document it. There are often discrepancies in versions of Township ordinances. Also ask for any recent amendments that might not be in the book.
- Make sure to look at an up to date zoning map and get the zoning officer to make a determination of which zone the property is in and what relief may be needed.
Organize Your Business Structure
Learn more about the differences in business structure and determine the best one for your venture. The most common choices are: sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.
- If your business will be a sole proprietorship and you will be using an assumed name, you must check the avail ability of the name you have chosen and register it.
- If your business will be a partnership, draw up your partner ship agreement. If the partner ship will be using an assumed name, register the fictitious name.
- If your business will be a corporation, file Articles of Incorporation.
For registration help, visit the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporation Bureau or the Online Business Registration Interview (OBRI), a step-by-step wizard that guides users through the process of registering an enterprise with the Departments of Labor & Industry, Revenue, and State. It is designed for users who are unfamiliar with Pennsylvania taxes, services, and business registration requirements. Also, Enterprises that have not registered their Limited Liability Company, Corporation, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership, or Fictitious Name with the Department of State.
Register with the Proper Authorities
Register for state taxes with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
- Complete the PA , an online fill-in form that allows users to register an enterprise with the Departments of Labor & Industry and Revenue, but does not register the enterprise with the Department of State. It is designed for users who are familiar with the PA process and know the taxes and services for which they need to register.
Register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS.
- Can apply by calling Toll-Free Telephone Service ()
- Can apply by mail - Complete SS-4 form.
- Can apply online.
- Contact the Internal Revenue Service for information on filing your federal tax schedules.
Apply for contractors registration through Attorney General.
Apply for Sales Tax ID through the Department of Revenue.
If you will have employees:
Protect your Intellectual Property
Register or reserve your federal trademark/servicemark.
Apply for patent if you will be marketing an invention.
Order any required notices of your intent to do business in the community by advertising the fictitious name.
Master the Basics of Intellectual Property Law.
The new BusinessUSA and USPTO Understanding Intellectual Property tool guides participants through the steps of understanding and protecting their invention/intellectual property.
USPTO’s IP Awareness Assessment tool determines how much you know about various IP issues and recommends other materials and resources.
The USPTO Inventor's Assistance Program (IAP) helps inventors navigate the patent process to ensure their inventions are legally protected.
Install a business phone or extra residential phone lines, if necessary.
Get adequate business insurance or a business rider to a homeowner's policy.
Square away financial and tax issues.
- Get tax information such as recordkeeping requirements, facts about estimating taxes, forms of organizations, etc.
- Open a bank account for the business.
Purchase equipment and/or supplies.
Order inventory, signage, and fixtures.
Marketing and Branding
Establish a marketing presence and visual identity
- Have business cards and stationery printed.
- Get an e-mail address.
- Find a Web hosting company and have your Web site designed and set up. If you want people to take you seriously, you need a professional web presence. Unless you’re a designer, don’t design your own site. Hire someone or use a service.
- Determine whether you need sales literature (brochures, flyers, etc) created and printed.
- Research how to advertise your business for free online with services such as Google Places, Bing Business, Yahoo! Local or the Yellow Pages. Also if appropriate, consider establishing a presence on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.